Cross Country Tour: 1958-1961 (1998) by Ahmad Jamal

Categories: 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1998, and Music.

This is an excellent survey of the live music of Ahmad Jamal and his trio in the late ’50s and very early ’60s. Jamal’s playing is so far from Monk – to my ears – that it’s rather incredible. His individuality in that sense is rather fantastic. Monk utterly changed piano playing and it must have been extremely tempting to play either in Monk’s shadow or to go back to pre-Monk playing. Jamal manages to do neither. And you can see the rather huge influence he’s had on other pianists, particularly cool jazz pianists. (And there’s an interesting chicken-or-egg question Read More

Point of Departure (1965) by Andrew Hill

Categories: 1965 and Music.

This is an aggressively “avant” post bop / hard bop (and modal!) album that skirts the edges of bop so much that you could almost mistake it for free (even though it is decidedly not). The compositions are ambitious, as is the band itself (substituting flute and bass clarinet for sax at types). And the solos are as out there as possible without going quite so far as to be completely free. It’s great stuff. It’s certainly dense stuff too, and it might take me a few more listens to fully decide what I think about it. But it’s hard Read More

Swiss Movement (1969) by Les McCann, Eddie Harris

Categories: 1969 and Music.

The myth-making goes to hilarious extremes in the liner notes – with the writer denying the band had ever played together before this date before then detailing how they played together before the date – but that’s something that’s quite common to jazz (and to music in general) and this band still sounds fantastic for a band that hadn’t rehearsed much (and which was tackling a song they just learned that day). McCann’s band brings the soul jazz and Harris (and Bailey, to a less extent) bring the modern sensibility. This is a strong record because the marriage of two Read More

Colors of a Dream (2013) by Tom Harrell

Categories: 2013 and Music.

This is a surprisingly bold “modern jazz” recording, featuring two basses, three horns and plenty of competing influences – more progressive post bop, R&B via Hard Bop and Soul Jazz, and some other things. Though it is absolutely mainstream jazz, it has a lot going on, more than I was expecting. When I read about Harrell I was worried I was getting into something I wasn’t going to like. But I find myself pleasantly surprised. This is a unique record that manages to sound not that much like the mainstream which it is firmly part of. 7/10 Read More

Camouflage (2004) by Acoustic Ladyland

Categories: 2004 and Music.

Coming at an artists backwards is always a big of an issue. Not only as it’s sort of unfair to the artist – we get our notions of what the artist sounds like when they are “mature” and try to apply that to their early work – but also as it’s unfair to the listener, often, because we don’t have a chance to grow with the artist, to learn from whatever journey they’re on. For example, I had no idea Acoustic Ladyland actually started out as an acoustic band performing Hendrix covers. I mean, I did know that intellectually, but Read More

The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark (1997) by Grant Green

Categories: 1997 and Music.

This compiles the first three albums Grant recorded with pianist Sonny Clark before the band was expanded to a quintet later in 1962. Interestingly, none of these albums were released until 1980 (in Japan) which, given the quality of the music, it’s really hard to understand. First we have Gooden’s Corner, recorded in late 1961, with both Nigeria and Oleo from January of 1962. (Again, all released in 1980, in Japan.) Burt the set isn’t presented quite like that, as Nigeria leads off the collection with the other two following chronologically. Nigeria is outstanding stuff, despite being full of standards, and makes Read More

Idle Moments (1964) by Grant Green

Categories: 1964 and Music.

Sometimes great music happens by accident. Apparently that’s what happened with the title track – it was never supposed to be so insanely long but somebody messed up and the band played the melody too many times. The result is pretty wonderful, if you love your cool jazz.And you know I don’t really. But I can respect it. And it’s not all cool, they do get “hot” (so to speak) on one of original tracks. The band is pretty stellar, particularly Hutcherson. Henderson appears to be really going against the grain, especially on the title track.But Wes was my first Read More

Dig It! (1962) by the Red Garland Quintet with John Coltrane

Categories: 1962 and Music.

This is a 1962 rarities album posing as a genuine session, essentially. The recordings were cobbled together from three separate dates in the late ’50s, and those dates were led by different people (not always Garland, as the attribution claims). And it’s hard to get excited about 1957-8 Trane on a 1962 album. He had moved so far forwards by ’62 that he barely sounded like the same person, if he did at all. Hell, Coltrane doesn’t even appear on every track. The music is pretty straight ahead hard bop / bop and it’s more interesting as a historical record, Read More

‘Round About Midnight by Miles Davis (1957, Columbia)

Categories: 1957 and Music.

Convention has it that this is a hard bop landmark, but I still here a fair amount of cool on the record. That’s just nitpicking I guess; but I just find it odd that people discuss this in terms of one genre not the other. In terms of the hard bop, it’s easy to see why, in retrospect, this has become a classic (it wasn’t exactly widely loved at the time of its released). The cool that is on here isn’t exactly mind-blowing, but I guess it’s the idea that even the cool here has more emphasis on rhythm than Read More

Monk’s Music by Thelonius Monk (Riverside 1957)

Categories: 1957 and Music.

I prefer these larger band recordings to the live Quartet performance at Carnegie Hall, as there’s a little more… variety I guess would be the best way of putting it. Coltrane sounds better here because you can compare him to this contemporaries and listen as he destroys them… not that it was a competition. There is some pretty ridiculous music within, my favourite of which is probably their version of “Well You Needn’t” which blows my mind, especially Monk’s performance. 10/10 Read More

The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings [Including Monk’s Music] by Thelonius Monk with John Coltrane] (Riverside 2006)

Categories: 1957 and Music.

I prefer these larger band recordings to the live Quartet performance at Carnegie Hall, as there’s a little more… variety I guess would be the best way of putting it. Coltrane sounds better here because you can compare him to this contemporaries and listen as he destroys them… not that it was a competition. There is some pretty ridiculous music within, my favourite of which is probably their version of “Well You Needn’t” which blows my mind, especially Monk’s performance. 10/10 Read More

At Carnegie Hall by the Thelonius Monk Quartet with John Coltrane (2005 release of 1957 concert, Blue Note)

Categories: 1957 and Music.

I would have given my left nut to attend this concert, especially for $2! This is fine stuff though I must say I like their studio performances a wee bit more. It’s great to hear a gig where you can see where Coltrane was headed maybe a little more than when he was working with Davis (that’s no criticism of Davis). It’s a bit of a match made in heaven, whereas when he was with Davis there was a distinct contrast in styles (which worked well as well). I guess that’s all I have to say really. 9/10 Read More